We often say that SEO is “an output, not an input” of effective content marketing. What we mean is that search engine optimization is fundamentally driven by a synthesis of site architecture, mindful content, and effective content marketing. It’s not really about keywords, links, or traffic. It’s all about getting the right content to the right person at the right time.
Using keywords to boost SEO is like using a pick-up line in a bar. If there’s not meaningful content to back up the attempted lead generation, it’s an effort in futility. Chasing after prospects with a formulaic, almost automated and single-minded approach isn’t as effective as marketing intentional content to a compatible and receptive audience, versus just anyone who might fall for a line.
The 2012 Disney animated-short, Paperman, provides a good working visual for this kind of SEO/content marketing dilemma. The narrative begins with a chance encounter between an accountant and young woman, waiting for their train. Like strangers in the night, they happen to share a moment that leaves a lasting impression on both of them. That’s where it seems to end, until the accountant notices that the young woman works in the office across the street from his. He begins to send paper airplanes out in a continuously failing attempt to get her attention. All of his paper airplanes miss the target and it’s not until the end of the short (and with a little bit of movie magic) that they finally reunite.
Paper airplanes, like failed pick-up lines, are just not an effective strategy. They’re also a waste of resources. In the real world, it takes more than movie magic, chance and happenstance to formulate an effective content marketing strategy.
- You need to have working knowledge of your existing customer segments.
- You need to have an understanding of your sales process.
- You need to have an understanding of your prospects’ buying process, as well.
- Your acquisition model needs to be clearly defined.
Patrick Hughes’ 2009 short film Signs tells a story that’s closer to effective content marketing. It’s very similar to Paperman, but instead of movie magic, mere chance and happenstance, there’s an intentional framework for the right content to be delivered to the right person, at the right time. In the movie short, there’s a mutual exchange of handwritten signs being shared between two office windows, across the street from each other; ending with the two assumed lovers to-be meeting in the street.
When the right content is delivered to the right person, at the right time, there’s no need to use a pick-up line, but everybody likes witty banter now and then, right? So work on improving your content first, and then from the response to that content you’ll be able to mine truly effective keywords, which, coupled with powerful content and a tested site architecture, will lead your prospective audience directly to you.